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Sharing Success Through Storytelling

Our firm recently held its Annual General Meeting during which five of our senior partners were asked to share information about their careers and what has aided in their success. We are likely not alone when I say these meetings can be dry, very dry. The group of them asked for my assistance as they were unsure how to make the presentation entertaining.

We had 45 minutes to present 10 tips that made these five people successful. If you do that math really quickly, each person was only given a few minutes to get their point across – and being that these individuals are successful, limiting their time at the microphone was going to be tough.

As a group we bantered around a number of scenarios that included the usual items such as a generic PowerPoint, a roundtable discussion and planted audience questions. I am a big proponent of storytelling for delivering a point and so after much deliberation we decided to go that route. Next question; how do we get our points across and what were the tips we wanted to share?

I had each of the team members come up with a top 10 list, from which we came up with the best 10 overall. Knowing we wouldn’t have enough time, we decided to use only five and make the rest available on our intranet. After agreeing on the points, I asked each of them to share two stories each.

The stories were all very good and definitely made our point but it was still missing something. We had decided early on to use video and imagery to aide in the presentation but with a presentation delivered to people in the mid-20s to mid-60s a new challenge came up – what do they think is funny? And just as important, what wouldn’t offend?

We included video clips from the 1970s right up to today that not only made our points stronger but ensured the audience would understand that what were sharing was not just senior partners of the firm preaching their virtues, but actually a better way to deal with clients, build relationships and be successful. We can learn a lot from Seinfeld and The Office, as much as we should have learned from Father Guido Sarducci and Rodney Dangerfield.

The end result was a presentation that did not come across as preachy or egotistical. Rather it included excellent tips for success, provided guidance for our younger staff and got a bit of a laugh. This was a case of knowing our audience but it was also a case of being able to work together to come up with a way to share the success of our most senior people with those that will be carrying the torch as we move forward. It helps with succession, it helps with growth and it helps in understanding how different generations can work together to build something that works.

It was also the most talked about presentation of the weekend….

Comments

  1. Sounds just excellent… any chance someone recorded it? I bet Slaw readers would love to see it! :) Or maybe an overview of which videoclips you used to convey the different tips?

  2. Yes, I’d be interested in seeing a copy of this presentation. Maybe if the lawyers have a chance you could turn the presentation into a podcast or a slideshare presentation for the rest of the world to enjoy?

  3. Hi Emma/Kelsey,
    Thank you for commenting on the post. As you can tell, I am a big proponent of storytelling as I find if you can keep the audience engaged you are more likely to have your point heard.

    Unfortunately, we did not film the presentation as we decided in advance that the venue would not have filmed well. The videos were used to set up the points we wanted to make – for example a Seinfeld clip was used to articulate the importance of following through with promises. The stories were all personal experiences which were used to drive each point home.

    The PowerPoint without the stories is unlikely to help you much. However at a very high level, the top tips we shared are below.
    1. It is all about relationships
    2. Only make promises you can keep
    3. Never stop learning
    4. Be open to new ideas, people, philosophies, and change
    5. Find a mentor / Be a mentor
    6. Lead by example
    7. Know our business
    8. Communicate / Accommodate
    9. Take time for yourself
    10. Love what you do